Jeff Daniels, who killed spiders in 'Arachnophobia,' gets spider-killing worm named after him

Jeff Daniels, who killed spiders in 'Arachnophobia,' gets spider-killing worm named after him

January 20, 2022

He's an Emmy-winning actor. A movie star. A singer/songwriter. 

Now, Jeff Daniels is the inspiration for the name of a tarantula-killing worm.

Taranarantobelus jeffdanielsi is the moniker of a newly found parasite that infects the scary spiders, according to the University of California Riverside. Research on the parasite was published in the Journal of Parasitology on Monday.

Discovered by a team from UC Riverside, the worm was given the name because of Daniels' role in the 1990 hit movie "Arachnophobia." In it, he's the hero battling a lethal spider attack that's endangering his small town.

“His character in the film is a spider killer, which is exactly what these nematodes are,” UC Riverside parasitologist Adler Dillman and lead researcher said in a news release.

Dillman said once a spider is infected by a jeffdanielsi, the appendages that control its fangs stop working and it will stop eating and eventually die of starvation.

Daniels' response to the university's decision was, characteristically, wry and good-natured.

“When I first heard a new species of nematode had been named after me, I thought, ‘Why? Is there a resemblance?’" Daniels said.

“Honestly, I was honored by their homage to me and 'Arachnophobia.' Made me smile. And of course, in Hollywood, you haven’t really made it until you’ve been recognized by those in the field of parasitology.”

For those keeping score at home, "Arachnophobia" earned more than $53 million worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo and has a 93% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Contributing: Jordan Mendoza, USA TODAY

Follow Julie Hinds on Twitter: @juliehinds.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Jeff Daniels now has a spider-killing worm named after him

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